Along Came a Spider – Extras/E19

A/N: This snippet from Royce King, Sr. is during Chapter 41 of Along Came a Spider 2.

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At the sound of a knock on my office door, I look up, hoping it’s the visitor I’ve been waiting for this morning. I told my assistant to send her in once she arrived. One glance at the man who appears in her place and I suspect I’m not going to be happy with his update.

“Mr. King?”

“Come in.” I release a heavy sigh.

Walking toward my desk, he looks as if he would rather be anywhere but here, sharing the last thing I want to hear. “There’s a problem, sir.”

“What sort of problem? I told you to bring her to me. I could not be more clear,” I state sternly.

“Dr. Swan is . . . missing.” 

I shake my head. 

Unbelievable. 

“She’s missing, or have you become inept at your job?” I suggest.

“Dr. Swan left Whitlock Ranch last night and returned home.”

I hold out my hands, waiting for the punchline. “And?”

He hesitates, undoubtedly not wanting to share his failure to do one damn thing. “She-she’s not at home.” 

My eyes narrow, and the man visually squirms under my glare. 

“Perhaps that’s an oversight on your part.”

“No, sir. I can assure you, it is not. The house is empty.”

I turn in my chair, look out the expansive floor-to-ceiling windows at my city below, and consider other possibilities. “You’ve checked the office? Maybe she arrived early or rode with someone else.”

“No, sir. She isn’t there either,” he confirms.

“You’re positive?” I ask skeptically.

“Yes, sir.”

Where could she be? 

“What about Dr. Sutherland?”

He nods. “At the office and seeing patients. The sister, Rosalie McCarty, is there too.”

“What about . . .” As much as I don’t want to admit it, her fiancé could be the key to finding her. “. . . Cullen?”

“Mr. Cullen is not in Frisco with the team this morning,” he replies.

“How can one woman just disappear?” I growl in frustration, then direct my ire where it belongs. “Should I fire you?”

“Uh . . . that is your decision, sir,” he concedes.

“You’re damn right it is,” I scold. ”What about the father? Still traveling alone?”

“Yes. He has remained in the St. Louis area since Saturday, despite moving locations.”

“Locations?”

“He moved from a casino hotel in downtown St. Louis to another across the Mississippi River in East St. Louis, Illinois.”

“Money?”

The man nods. “He’s recovered most of what he lost while visiting Boston, but he isn’t even yet. My hunch—”

“Am I paying for your hunches?” His speculation is unwelcome.

“No, sir. But I have good reason to believe he will be on the move soon.”

“Why?” I demand.

“The team is playing in Nashville tomorrow night. He followed them from Raleigh to Boston, then to St. Louis, but he didn’t return to Dallas for the game with Edmonton last night, even though his son played in the entire game. I believe he could be avoiding Dallas. His wife is still with her sister in Houston . . .” He pauses, shifting back and forth.

“What?” I urge him to continue.

“We also have a development on the property where Mr. Cullen’s parents are living, but he owns. There is a new sign that states a real estate listing will be available soon.” 

He’s selling. 

I wonder what that means.

Divorce?

Perhaps, I should look into it.

“Hmmm. And Dr. Swan’s parents?”

“They’re at Whitlock Ranch.”

Well, they won’t be going anywhere for a while thanks to me, which means Dr. Swan will resurface eventually, but at the moment, that isn’t good enough.

“I want to know where she is,” I state, jabbing my finger against the desk. “Find her!”

After my meeting with Alice, it’s time for a . . . correction.

“We’ll keep working on it,” he reassures, but it does little to console me. 

“Not good enough. Locate her by the end of today or I’ll find someone who can, and you will no longer be needed here.”

“Understood, sir. We will find her.”

Once he slinks out of my office, I stand, looking toward the horizon and beyond Dallas. “Where are you, Dr. Swan? And why can’t I find you?”

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